Revisiting Rochester

Fall 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

Fall 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

What the heck happened in Rochester? On a tour where Phish could do no wrong, they stopped in western New York on a Tuesday night and threw an absolute clunker. Not only did the band display a noticeable lack of energy, they simply couldn’t hook up improvisationally. Only two days removed from a white hot weekend in Hampton, the site of several prolific jams, things—suddenly—had taken 180 degree turn. The band gave it their best effort for the opening of the second set, but before long, set things on cruise control—at around 45 mph—for the rest of the night. Since I haven’t as much mentioned this show since tour ended, I thought it was high tome to go back and see what the heck went down in Phish’s third show at War Memorial Auditorium.

Rochester Official (Fugscreens)

Rochester Official (Fugscreens)

Rochester was the first show that many Northeastern fans caught on fall tour, and with the buzz on Hampton’s final set still thick in the air, everyone laced up their dancing shoes for what felt like a no-brainer throwdown. But unlike most nights in their career, the band simply couldn’t get it going. A solid, if not slow, first set seemed par for the course after a monstrous three nights—an easy frame to work back into things. “Timber” provided a glimpse of jamming, though mostly standard songs filled out the set with nothing out of the ordinary. Things would clearly elevate after setbreak—or would they?

Both times the band had opened with “Crosseyed” this year, in Holmdel and at the Gorge, the jam blew up into a tour highlight. Thus, when the band brought out the Talking Heads’ cover for the third time of 2013, and the first time indoors, one suspected a monstrosity. But this time, the jam never got off the ground. What happened?

Reading (A.Nusinov)

Reading (A.Nusinov)

The guys had things on lock down through the structured part of the jam, but when they went to open things up, they were never able to connect. Just as they moved into free form territory, Fishman, inexplicably, dropped his rhythm out of the mix, abruptly shifting the feel of the excursion and throwing everyone off. The band members tried to adjust to this beatless canvas, but it took some time for anything to truly transpire. On listen back, Trey attempts to push things with a set of quickened chords, but nobody joins him, and at this juncture it sounds like Fish and Trey are on completely different pages and not united at all. Typically the axis of Phish, Trey and Fish struggled through this initial section, though finally reached some level of harmony allowing the jam to progress.

Phish gained some momentum through the next part of “Crosseyed’s” jam, but their playing remained disjointed and didn’t resemble the well-oiled machine we had witnessed in Virgina. The jam continues in very generic fashion, though nothing, whatsoever, develops. Following an uncharacteristically awkward meat of this jam, the band found a decent groove in the final, ethereal portion of this segmented set opener. Some nice, loose textures emerged, but the guys are merely wandering, and before long, Trey cut things off with the opening to “Light.”

Atlantic City (G.Estreich)

Atlantic City (G.Estreich)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again—and this is what the move into “Light” was all about. Not willing to accept defeat, Trey led the band into, perhaps, their most wide open jam vehicle to see what they could come up with. But following a solid composed section, once the band dove into open waters, it was nothing but stinksville—the guys just couldn’t connect. Over a choppy groove, Trey began chording and then signing “Golden Age” in half-speed, executing a smooth segue and giving the crowd something unique to cheer about. The guys stuck with the slower tempo—one would think to foreshadow a dirty funk jam—but once “Golden Age’s” improvisational passage dropped, it sounded like all four band members were on different drugs. In short, it was a mess. Page tried to salvage things getting down on his clavinet, but it was all for naught. Before anything transpired musically, Trey counted off for “Birds of a Feather,” waving his white flag of surrender.

The rest of the set might as well have been a continuation of the first, featuring an eye-popping run of “Halley’s,” “Possum,” “Bug,” and “Heavy Things.” Trey tried to throw a setlist bone to the audience with an end-of-set “You Enjoy Myself,” but the band delivered a flat and lazy version. Oh well, ya’ can’t win em all! Thus we packed our bags and headed for Glens Falls.

What was fascinating about Rochester, however, was just how off course it was in relation to the rest of the tour. Phish are human beings after all, but this show was such an aberration from any other of fall (and even summer), it almost made no sense. On Sunday night they played their best set of tour in Hampton and on Tuesday they sounded like a JV jamband on dirty acid. Go figure. Such is the nature of live music I suppose. They say, you can’t have the highs without the lows, so I guess we needed one night to remind us just how special all the others were. It worked.

10.22.13 Rochester, NY (Jake Silco)

10.22.13 Rochester, NY (Jake Silco)


Jams of the Day:

Winged-music-noteCrosseyed” 10.22 II, Rochester, NY

Listen to how different and disconnected this jam sounds compared to any other jam from fall.

[audio:] Tags: ,

378 Responses to “Revisiting Rochester”

  1. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Reading Keith’s Life now sumo. Friend lent it to me. Just getting started. Qual for sure.

  2. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    I think one of the regulars here who goes by the name of a TAB song that became a Phish song may know a thing or two about D M T.

    You know, Mr_Winterqueen.

  3. George W. Kush Says:

    Gracias JG for the link. Might haveta spin thru that album

  4. little umbrellas Says:

    ……. ANALOG (puffin)

    ……. STEAM

    ……. Just Kids $$$ (need to check the Keef bio, well dome)

    ……. Trans Europe Express

    ^a fan

  5. sumodie Says:

    Terence McKenna was all about DMT. Check out his writings

  6. DavidSilver Says:

    Have read Keefs bio. So fucking money. Have heard Miles Davis bio is ridic, but haven’t bought it yet. Just reread Steve Parrish bio, which is mostly a love letter to Jerry, but lots of cool stories. Only negative word was about how Booby got pissed at him once. I hope Phish gets a quality bio one day, cause the one by Parker P is atrocious.

  7. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Home Before Daylight: My Life on the road w/ the GD?

  8. DavidSilver Says:

    Excellent point sumo. Highly rec Food of the Gods and Archaic Revival. That dude is a true believer. I don’t quite understand his Time Wave Theory, but it beats most other theories.

  9. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Anyone read Blair Jackson’s Garcia: An American Life?

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    Miles’ autobio is the shit! incredible story telling. so good.
    also it is awesome as a referance book. he’s worked with or has some story to share about almost everybody in that world, decades deep. and in the back all the names are referanced. very fun… listening to Chick, or McLaughlin, Miller, Henderson, Bird, Matheny, or whateva? just flip to the back and read what Miles has to say.

  11. DavidSilver Says:

    Ueah, that’s the one. Love Candace Brightmans also. Scullys is dirty pool, but prolly the most honest.

  12. George W. Kush Says:

    Hows the Phil bio?

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Carol Brightman’s Sweet Chaos? Candace’s sister.

  14. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Pretty decent read Jorge; worth checking out for sure. I own it & couldn’t put it down until I had read it. But haven’t revisited it whereas I’ve read McNally’s 3x front to back.

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    searching for the sound, a good one. cool to hear some personel stories from Phil.

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    I need to pick up McNally’s Desolate Angel the Kerouac biopic

  17. George W. Kush Says:

    i picked McNally’s a while back but just skimmed didnt read read really. Time to jump in, I reckon. I second that notion on Parke’s Phish garbage. Seems like he just wanted to beat everyone to the punch on first Phish bio.

  18. DavidSilver Says:

    Sweet Chaos. Yeah, I dug it.

  19. DavidSilver Says:

    Ken Keseys Demon Box is some short stories from his life. The story where he smokes STP? is writing at it’s finest. He didn’t have a lot of output, but damn, I’d like to write any book of his. So many layers.

  20. jtran Says:

    @george kush

    took the slf to john mayer this summer. was very impressed with his playing. whatever guitar he’s got has a very jerry-esque tone to it. he ripped a bunch of solos and even had some cool segues between songs.

    for the price of his cheap seats I’d go again


  21. Winterqueen Says:

    DMT is bomb, yo!

  22. garretcorncob Says:


    Sometimes A Great Notion is my second favorite book of all time. Finally got myself a copy (read it first time from the library) a while back, have it on my shelf waiting for a re-read.

  23. vapebraham Says:

    Mean Lady opening for bombino tonight in phila. trippiest video i’ve EVER seen:

    ^^^ $$$

  24. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Hitting Bombino vape? Hope you can muster the strength amigo. Should be diggity dank.

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    Mayer eh?…. saw him do the Band of Gypsies opening for Phil. a fan of his told me, “just wait! Mayer is gonna rip your cumberland rag or whatever a new asshole!” and with hand motions: “Hendrix-Clapton-Mayer”……

    yeah, whatever buddy, hope you enjoy the following three and a half hours of Phil after then.

    Mayer’s favorite part of his playing was when he took his picking hand away from the guitar for show.
    ….run through the walls of my high school…. ?????

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